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New Mel Lewis bio announced

February 2, 2015

By Kathy Edwards McFarland
via University of North Texas Press

We at the University of North Texas Press are excited to let you and your website visitors know about a new jazz biography that we have recently

Mel Lewis

Mel Lewis

published. The View From The Back Of The Band: The Life and Music of Mel Lewis is a definitive account of Lewis’ life, showcasing both his trademark wit as well as many poignant remembrances. In addition, there are transcriptions of several of his landmark performances, as well as information about his setups through the years.

The View from the Back of the Band: The Life and Music of Mel Lewis
By Chris Smith
Foreword by John Mosca
Afterword by John Riley

Mel Lewis (1929-1990) was born Melvin Sokoloff to Jewish Russian immigrants in Buffalo, New York. He first picked up his father’s drumsticks at the age of two and at 17 he was a full-time professional musician. The View from the Back of the Band is the first biography of this legendary jazz drummer. For more than 50 years, Lewis provided the blueprint for how a drummer could subtly support any musical situation. While he made his name with Stan Kenton and Thad Jones, and with his band at the Village Vanguard, it was the hundreds of recordings that he made as a sideman and his ability to mentor young musicians that truly defined his career.
Away from the drums, Lewis‘s passionate and outspoken personality made him one of jazz music’s greatest characters. It is often through Lewis‘s own anecdotes, as well as many from the musicians who knew him best, that this book traces the career of one of the world’s greatest drummers. Previously unpublished interviews, personal memoirs, photos, musical transcriptions, and a selected discography add to this comprehensive biography.

Lewis died from melanoma in 1990, at the age of 60, according to the New York Times obituary.

Smith did a fine job. The research is meticulous and his insights into the music of Mel Lewis are good ones.” – Bruce Klauber, author of World of Gene Krupa: That Legendary Drummin’ Man.

“This is the best and most complete tracking of Lewis‘ career.” – John Riley, author of The Art of Bop Drumming and holder of Lewis‘ chair at the Village Vanguard

Author Chris Smith was raised in Iowa and began playing the drums at age eight. He holds degrees from Northern Illinois University and Manhattan School of Music, and a doctorate from University of Northern Colorado. He is currently a professional drummer and educator in New York, frequently giving master classes throughout the U.S.


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